JERUSALEM, April 5 -- Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has ordered Israel's security services to find ways to let Jews visit the Temple Mount, the bitterly disputed Jerusalem holy site where the six-month-old Palestinian uprising broke out, his office said Thursday.

"The prime minister has given instructions to different security services to find an adequate way (to apply) the right to visit the Temple Mount," as Jews call the site, Sharon's office said in a statement.Muslims call the site al-Haram al-Sharif.

Sharon "defends the principle of every religion having the right of access to the Temple Mount," the statement said.

Sharon called on the security apparatus to find ways of enabling Jews to carry out the biblical command of ascending to the Temple Mount on the three pilgrimage festivals: Passover, Shauvuot (The Feast of Weeks), and Succot (the Feast of Tabernacles).

The Palestinian uprising, or intifada, broke out September 28 when Sharon, then Israel's right-wing opposition leader, made a high-profile visit to the mosque compound, which Muslims consider their third-holiest site.

Ensuing Israeli-Palestinian clashes, mostly in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, have since claimed 468 lives: 383 Palestinians, 13 Israeli Arabs, 71 Jews, and other Israelis and a German.

Israeli police, fearing trouble, generally bar Jews from praying inside the mosque compound, whose day-to-day administration is run by the Waqf, a Palestinian body charged with the Muslim community's welfare.

Since the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada, Jews generally have been prevented by the Waqf from even entering the site.

Muslims believe the compound, which includes both the al-Aqsa mosque and the golden Dome of the Rock shrine, is where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

The compound was built on top of the remains of the last Jewish Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Its last remnant, the Western, or Wailing, Wall below the mount, is considered Judaism's holiest site.

Nonetheless, numerous Muslim and Palestinian spokesmen, including Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, have repeatedly denied any Jewish connection with the area, despite overwhelming historical and archaeological evidence to the contrary.

Sharon's office published its statement after an extremist group called the Temple Mount Faithful protested to the Israeli Supreme Court, saying Jews should be allowed into the mosque compound.

Israel radio reported that the high court rejected the demands.

The Temple Mount Faithful calls for the destruction of the mosque compound and construction of a Third Jewish Temple.

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